Visas can be a pain for any traveler. It involves tons of paperwork, large expenses and can even cause delays to your trip. Those of us with weak passports can relate to this very well.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Holding certain visas can be highly beneficial to you, such as a US visa. There are a number of benefits of US visa, which I will cover in this article.
There are different types of US visas but I will focus on the B1/B2 visa in this article. The US B1/B2 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued for the purpose of business or tourism. Apart from the obvious benefits of US visa such as its 10-year validity, multiple-entry, and 180-day stay per entry, there are a number of other benefits of US B1/B2 visa. We will discuss those in detail in this article
Benefits of US visa
There are about seven advantages of US visa. These include VISA-FREE access to many countries in the world, helping you save money and time in the long run and reaching the remote parts of the Caribbean that you can’t otherwise. By obtaining the US B1/B2 visa, you will benefit from all these advantages purely from having it in your passport.
Most often, the countries that allow VISA-FREE entry with a US visa are developing countries. These countries cannot afford the infrastructure to screen every traveler that passes through their borders.
US visas are one of the most difficult visas to obtain that involve a strict screening process. The US visa screening ensures that you have strong ties to your home country. This ensures that you do not have any desire to remain illegally in the US or any other country.
Let’s take a look at the further benefits of US visa, especially the benefits of US B1/B2 visa.
1. You can visit 49 countries VISA-FREE with a US visa
That’s right. About 49 countries and territories in the world offer VISA-FREE entry just for having a valid US B1/B2 visa in your passport! If you hold a weak passport, I highly recommend you get a US B1/B2 visa to add an additional 49 countries to your VISA-FREE list.
There are many absolutely beautiful countries on this list. From Mexico in North America to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama in Central America right down to Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru in South America. I would highly recommend visiting these countries.
I haven’t even mentioned the tropical locations of Asia yet. The Philippines and Taiwan are the perfect countries for those island getaways! The Middle Eastern countries of the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia also allow VISA-FREE entry with a US visa as well as some European countries such as Turkey, Montenegro, Georgia and Albania.
2. You can transit via the UK or Schengen countries without a visa
If you hold a weak passport, you will most probably require a visa to transit through the UK or Schengen countries. This applies even if you are not exiting the airport and will remain air-side for the duration of your transit.
The good news is that you can transit through the UK or Schengen countries by holding a US visa. This is one of the biggest advantages of US visa.
Quite a few Schengen countries allow transiting without obtaining a transit visa if you hold a US visa. You can transit via France, transit via Germany, or transit via Spain with a US visa. You can also transit via the UK without obtaining a transit visa if you hold a valid US visa.
This can actually save you a lot of time and money in the long run. It removes the stress from your travels by eliminating the need for yet another visa.
3. Transiting via the US is cheaper compared to direct flights to Latin America or the Caribbean
It is often cheaper to fly via the US when flying from Europe or Asia to Mexico, South America, or the Caribbean. There are a lot more flights leaving from the US to these places on a daily basis compared to anywhere else in the world. This means there is more competition among the airlines leading to cheaper flights.
Let’s look at a couple of examples below.
Above is an example of a one-way flight to Mexico City, Mexico from Frankfurt, Germany via the US vs direct. As you can see, flying via the US is almost HALF THE PRICE!
Above is an example of a one-way flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil from New Delhi, India to Sao Paulo, Brazil via the US vs direct. As you can see, flying via the US is almost 3/4th THE PRICE
Once again, you can see that flying via the US is significantly cheaper than alternative routes. This is one of the biggest benefits of US visa. Holding a US visa will save you significant amounts of money in the long run by saving up on flights and visas.
4. Flights to the Caribbean are often only from the US
One of the biggest advantages of US visa is that many direct flights to more isolated places in the Caribbean such as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, only depart from the US. This means that as one of the benefits of US B1/B2, you can fly into the US first and then on to one of these more remote places.
Above is an example of a one-way flight to Nassau, the Bahamas from Miami International Airport. As you can see, it’s a direct flight and the fare is SUPER CHEAP.
Above is an example of a one-way flight to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos from JFK International Airport. As you can see, it’s a direct flight and the fare is QUITE CHEAP.
Once again, the benefits of US visa make themselves apparent here. The ease of travel to the remote islands in the Caribbean is made possible by the US visa
5. US visas are usually long-term 10-year visas
One of the biggest advantages of US visa is that the B1/B2 visa is valid for 10 years. Most visas you apply for these days are valid for a period anywhere from your exact dates to a year if you’re lucky. Think about a Schengen visa or a UK visa.
You can get longer Schengen or UK visas but that requires proving that you have traveled to these countries quite often. That’s not the case with a US visa. You can get a 10-year US B1/B2 visa even if you have never set foot in the US before.
US visas allow you to travel freely to and from the US for the duration of its validity, which is 10 years, for up to 180 days per entry.
US B1/B2 visas are issued for 5 years or less to certain countries. Ex: US B1/B2 visas for Pakistan passport holders are valid for 5 years and for Nigerian passport holders for 2 years.
6. US visas help in getting other visas easily (such as Canada, UK)
Many travelers with weak passports underestimate the importance of travel history. You might think that your previous travel history is not important in your future visa applications. However, that’s not the case. Your previous travels and visas play an important role in your visa applications, especially the Canada visa and the UK visa.
A US visa is a strong visa. It’s also one of the most difficult visas to obtain. Holding a US visa indicates that you have been screened well, that you have strong ties with your country, that you have the means to travel and that you have no intention of remaining in the US. Your previous travels to the US show that you are a genuine traveler.
Visa applications such as the UK or Canada specifically ask for your previous travel history to countries such as the US, UK, Canada or Australia. Holding a US visa helps convince the UK or Canada visa officers that you are a genuine traveler and have never been in violation of any immigration laws.
7. Immigration officers treat you better if you have a US visa in your passport
Even if you hold a visa to a country, just because you hold a weak passport, you may be subject to further questioning at the airport. But if the immigration officer notices a US visa in your passport, they treat you better and spare you from further questioning.
Why? Because the immigration officers are aware of the stringent US visa screening. They are convinced that you have been screened well already.
Every time I’m entering a new country, the immigration officers flip through every page of my Indian passport until they see my US visa. The search for something in my passport ends right when they see my US visa. They stamp me in and say “welcome”.
They see a visa from Cambodia or Vietnam, but when they notice a US visa, they are convinced that I’m a genuine traveler.
As you can see from the information above, there are many benefits of US visa that are highly advantageous to you as a traveler with a weak passport.
Even though a US B1/B2 is a difficult visa to obtain, I highly recommended that you get one prior to your travels. Having a US visa is highly advantageous if you are planning to travel not only to the US, but to many other countries around the world that recognize and accept the US B1/B2 visa. So go ahead and get planning. Your next adventure awaits!